Linux with a flavour of Mint
I primarily run Linux Mint on my machines, currently 19.1 and the Cinnamon
desktop manager. I do keep an eye on
track about 1,000 Linux distros, which covers
only a part of what is out there. This helps me to see what is new
and what other distributions are doing.
 there are far too many distros which scares off many ex-Win/Mac developers from porting their software over. “To which of these 1,000+ distros must I code?” This is called the "Desktop Fragmentation of Linux" and is a big problem. And it is made even worse by some 20 desktop managers (Gnome, MATE, Cinnamon, i3, DeepIn, Budgie, etc, etc, …). Add on top different software packaging and management tools - it quickly seems insurmountable. Not just to developers, but the general public. All they see is what is on display at the store: Windows and oh yes, Mac. Linux... what's that?
- So there are 4 major family groups in Linux:
- RHEL (IBM/RedHat) - for commercial use (runs 60%+ of the world). For the smaller user they provide free editions with CentOS and Fedora.
- Debian - is by far the biggest family with hundreds of derivatives, the most popular being Ubuntu (which also has commercial editions) and Mint.
- Arch - is more advanced and in its "raw form" hard to manage. In this stable is Manjaro and also Antergos which make Arch more user-friendly.
- SUSE - is another commercial line, with free options like OpenSUSE.
- For deep guru neckbeards there are Gentoo and Slackware which have been around since day one of Linux, but are designed for those who breathe kernel code and may have a preference for strong coffee and fast-food deliveries.
Another distro that I have tried is Manjaro (both Cinnamon and xfce), which is very slick but very hungry on bandwidth for updates. Not for beginners, Manjaro is based on Arch and for the more advanced user it offers an "install and just update forever" rolling release. Linux Lite, Ubuntu MATE, MX-Linux and several other distros are in Virtual Machines being used for specific tasks or just being test driven for a while.
For my daily computing and workflow I stick to Linux Mint and would still
recommend it for newcomers and seasoned users alike. Mint's flagship is
the Cinnamon edition. The Mint team originated Cinnamon which has become
its own 'product', as well as MATE which is an earlier Gnome2/3 spinoff.
There are also editions using the Xfce and KDE desktops. If you prefer a
'rolling' distro, there is LMDE 3 'Cindy' .
This differs from the usual Mint fare as it is built on Debian directly,
not 'via' Ubuntu. So within the Mint space you already have much choice
to suit your preferences.
 for a rolling release, just go with Manjaro!
For someone just starting out on the Linux journey, I recommend going with the Cinnamon edition. If you have old or slow hardware, then Xfce. So… that old laptop you moved on from when you bought your current one? Perfect for trying out Linux. Go on, be brave, explore some! And do try three or more different distros while you're at it.
In June 2017, Brian Lunduke said that if you are recommending Windows for your company, you should be fired. See »networkworld.com.
In July 2018, Forbes writer Jason Evalgelho wrote that »you should switch from Windows to Linux right now!
»"The State of Desktop Linux 2019" by Brian Lunduke at the Linux Journal is a worthwhile read.
Do not put too much equity into Distrowatch
The ratings measure 'interest in' by counting clicks on links to the distros. I'm growing a bit suspicious about the unnaturally high ratings of several distros…
There are so many distributions of Linux, and I have installed and
used Mint, Manjaro and MX for various purposes. I keep going back to Mint
as my main distro. It has been the best fit for my computing habits and
image workflow. I have found "it just works" and the OS lets me do
projects with little 'sysadmin' overhead. There was a very noticable
slow-down from 18.3 to 19 (thanks to the new Ubuntu base and Intel chip
exploit scares) - 19.1 has addressed some of the performance issues.
ZDnet had a glowing »review of Linux Mint 18 (July 11, 2016). And there is of course a »newer write-up about Mint 19 (July 2, 2018).